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Course Accessibility Guidelines

Rutgers University is committed to ensuring equal access to information, programs, and activities through its technologies, web pages, services and resources for all its constituencies. The guidelines listed here establish a baseline for the accessibility and usability of course management systems and the materials used within them.

Documents (Word, PowerPoint, PDF)

  • Use certain fonts designed for legibility on the screen (e.g., Georgia, Tahoma, Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, Calibri) and keep the number used to a minimum. Read more about fonts on the Rutgers Accessibility website.
  • Use bold or italic text to convey emphasis instead of using underlines, colors, or writing whole sentences in all caps.
  • Maintain sharp contrast between text color and background color by using black text on white background. Use a color contrast checker to determine if there is reasonable contrast between text and its background.
  • Apply heading styles to your document by using the ribbon (toolbar) in Word or PowerPoint. Headings are required for screen readers to be able to read the document. A table of contents can be included that allows learners to move easily throughout documents.
  • Create bulleted or numbered lists by using the ribbon (toolbar) in Word or PowerPoint instead of manually typing the characters or numbers.
  • Provide alternative text/captions for all images. For alternative text, describe the image and, if necessary, include an explanation about what is important about the image in terms of the context of learning.
  • Insert active hyperlinks for all URLs in your document. Instead of using “Click here”, the anchor text should be descriptive of where the link will take the user.
  • Check correct math formatting guidelines if you use equations. If images are the only option, make sure to supply sufficient alternative text.
  • PDF
    • Starting from an accessible Word or PowerPoint document is the easiest approach. You can then use “Save to PDF” or “Print to PDF”.
    • In cases where PDFs have already been created and are inaccessible (eg. image scans), remediation must be done via Adobe Acrobat or using the SensusAccess document conversion tool. Contact accessibility@rutgers.edu for help in determining the best approach for your needs.

Multimedia (Images, Audio, Video)

  • Provide alternative text/captions for all images. For alternative text, describe the image and, if necessary, include an explanation about what is important about the image in terms of the context of learning.
  • Provide a text transcript for all audio-only files and video presentations that consist primarily of the image of the speaker.
    • Transcripts can be manually created in a word processing program or can be created by using services such as Rev, CastingWords, or GMR Transcription
    • If using and sharing an original PowerPoint or Keynote file, a script added to each slide’s Notes area can suffice as a transcript.
  • For video presentations with a significant amount of images, graphics, or animation, captions should be provided.
    • Captions can be manually created using a word processing program or an editor such as Amara; YouTube will create machine generated captions that can be edited; and, services such as Rev, and 3PlayMedia can be used to create captions. Contact accessibility@rutgers.edu for more information.
    • Videos uploaded through Kaltura are automatically machine-captioned. However, these captions are typically only about 70-90% accurate, and should be manually checked and edited using Cielo 24. Contact oid@docs.rutgers.edu for more information.
  • When using video created by others (e.g. Swank (via Rutgers’ Libraries), TED, YouTube) try to identify a source that includes captions/transcripts.

Course Management

  • Course management systems should have a link to an accessibility statement.
  • Include a syllabus statement detailing the process of requesting accommodations, including link(s) to Office of Disability Services.
  • Navigation in course shell or course website should be consistent across pages.
  • All online courses should have information regarding the date the course was last updated.